I've been looking forward to Michael Chabon's appearance at Washington and Lee University for months, so I couldn't let the fact that I have a lot to do stand in my way of attending. So I drove the 30 miles down to Lexington, nodded to a few people I recognized in the audience, and thoroughly enjoyed listening to Chabon read for an hour his essay, the title of which might have been "Imaginary Homelands" (but I got distracted so I'm not entirely sure). The thrust of the talk was an explanation of how he arrived at the concept for his latest novel, The Yiddish Policemen's Union, and it was an interesting route indeed. Along the way he talked a lot about origins, history, and wound up in some reflections on literary influences and his return to an interest in the fantasy and science fiction that delighted him as a child.
There were questions, none of them stupid (well, maybe one, no two), but Chabon handled them all nicely. And I found myself wishing I had my notebook and pen with me because while he spoke I had an important insight for the story I'm working on. Fortunately it was still in my head when I got home and I'll be able to put it to work tomorrow.
Chabon is an exciting thinker and I need to spend more time with his work.